It is expected to see there will be more and more women participate in trade sector, which has recognized to be male-dominated, to cope with the soaring demand for tradespeople in New Zealand.
There were only 5% women of all tradespeople in 2013 yet it is foreseeable that the number will rise in the next few years. 23% of the trainees from a trades training organization were women last year and it is optimistic that the number will increase to 40% in the next 4 years. However, there are still factors hindering women participation in trade sector, including the gender stereotypes and the traditional perception of the sector. Some people may still perceive physical strength as the key reason for the success in the trades however it is no longer the case due to the improvement in construction technology.
“In the past, heavy machinery really was heavy machinery, but that’s not the case today. Many women make incredible operators and tradespeople. They tend to look after their tools and machinery, and all the women we have out there on construction and infrastructure projects, they just love it.” said Nancy McConnell, General Manager Corporate Affairs for Hawkins Group. Stereotyped thoughts like “you are too weak” or “you are just a girl” and so on are pinned deep on most of the women which has stopped them to step in the trade sectors. It could be changed over time with more women get involved in the sector.
The employers in the industry also welcome the women force joining the sector because of the positive influence they bring in and the key traits they own.
“The employers love the diversity of thought that women bring, whether it’s a site environment or an office environment. We all have to respect there are a lot of similarities in thought processes between men and women, but we all think differently, and actually I think many women do think slightly differently to men. And that diversity is incredibly healthy for a workplace. Construction has traditionally been described as a tough environment, but I’d actually describe it as a team environment. Good, strong communication skills are so important. It’s about being part of a team and being able to express why you think doing things in a different way would make a lot of sense.” said Nancy.